At 9:30 p.m., on Oct. 17, the town council had been – for three full hours – deeply engaged in a lively and spirited discussion about the following: the need to review appointed positions, vehicular public nuisances, why aspen trees are prohibited in town, and the 2023 budget.
By council rules, the monthly meeting cannot exceed three hours without unanimous council consent. It had been a long day for everyone, and people were tired, but the meeting wasn’t done yet; council still had not heard from Public Works Coordinator David Nugent, nor from the council committees. The motion to continue the meeting and finish the business at hand was easy, collegial and unanimously approved.
Staying late to finish the meeting – thereby giving town staff the respect they deserve and hearing directly from the committees in person – is important to this council. Council members clearly take their responsibilities seriously, and they are determined to do their best. The council is committed to understanding community needs and improving the town’s quality of life. And sometimes, although not frequently, this means meetings can go past 9:30 p.m.
Six people serve on Mountain View’s council. And while most councils in different towns and cities have similar responsibilities, due to its small size, there is something uniquely special about sitting on Mountain View’s council.
The town occupies 12 square blocks, making Mountain View council members uniquely accessible to their constituents. This means that nearly every person and business owner in town can build strong, personal relationships with council members, which allows the council to function on a much more personal level than many other councils.
When a council member speaks to their fellow members, they share their own personal experiences and those of their neighbors’ and constituents’ – most likely relayed to them via the normal neighbor-to-neighbor interactions of any small community. It is this neighbor-to-neighbor interaction that makes Mountain View special.
None of the council members would consider themselves politicians. The current council includes a homemaker, a student and an entrepreneur, among others. Over the course of the four-year term, council members learn about many different subjects, such as municipal finance, governing ethics, public works and infrastructure issues, and public safety and police issues.
The council makes decisions about a wide variety of topics, requiring the expertise of professionals to help inform and guide their decisions. A Town Attorney, Town Accountant, and Code Enforcement Officer help in many ways, but the cornerstone of the professional guidance comes from town staff who have spent their lives learning and practicing their professions.
Mountain View is staffed with highly professional department leadership, including Police Chief Steve Davis, who has been in law enforcement for over 40 years, and the Town Clerk/Treasurer Margy Greer, who comes to Mountain View via Edgewater and Lakewood, and has been involved in municipal work since 1997. She has also taught municipal clerk classes at Regis University and the Municipal Clerk Institute. Although our seasoned Public Works Director, Gene Bird, is retiring this month, Public Works Coordinator David Nugent will take on the director position, bringing much professional experience to the table in his new role.
The monthly public council meetings require reading a packet that invariably includes sections of Town Code to be considered, as well as reports from staff on various contracts and upcoming considerations. Additionally, each council member volunteers for or is assigned to a committee that comprises their remaining council work. Committees include projects such as cataloging historical documents and updating the website, or working to plan and manage events. Being on the Finance Committee involves reading and reporting on the town’s monthly financial statements. Although the mayor effectively advises committees, committees formally report to the council as a whole.
Mountain View residents have a well-informed, serious and effective council as their local-level advocate. When council vacancies occur and when terms are up, Mountain View residents should not be afraid to step up – by applying for a vacancy or running for election – and learn the role of a council member. Anyone can learn council work and every resident has something valuable to contribute. The position does not require any prior professional experience; our knowledgeable staff and professional appointees guide the council. In our close-knit community, one thing is clear: Mountain View works best with everyone pitching in to help, one way or another.
Contact Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Bailey at KBailey@tomv.org.